Mark Cuban has an interesting discussion going on his blog right now about NBCUniversal and its exclusive rights to the 2008 Summer Olympic Games. NBC pays billions to be the home of the last five Summer and Winter Olympic Games (concluding with Beijing) and for that, NBC gets to broadcast the video first on one of its six television stations and NBCOlympics.com. After that, other broadcast outlets can show short clips of NBC’s content on their stations, like during their sports reports.
While NBC will have more than 2,200 hours of live sports available online including live blogging, NBC will not show online any event that the network plans to show on television until AFTER it airs on TV. All of this coverage on NBC, CNBC, MSNBC, Telemundo, USA, Bravo (?) and NBCOlympics.com will feature some of the most inspired performances by the most talented athletes. However, none of it will be seen on any other website:
Other TV networks have a limited window in which to show Olympics highlights, but no video of Olympic events is permitted to be shown on any Web site besides NBCOlympics.com.
My questions is how does NBC enforce this? Sure, they’re going to have staffers on YouTube trolling for words like, “Olympics” “Beijing” “2008” and “U.S. Women’s Volleyball.” But how does that stop information from leaking from Beijing to the internet and mobile phones? What happens when a runner’s mom snaps a picture of her daughter’s race and immediately posts it to her Flickr page? Is NBC going to sue the runner’s phone savvy mom?
What happens when Michael Phelps posts from his blackberry using the Facebook application: “Michael Phelps is: really glad he just smashed ANOTHER record in Beijing.” Will NBC monitor his and everyone of his teammates facebook pages? Will they monitor the wall posts too when a friend from Maryland then posts, “Way to break another record MP!!!”?
Can you imagine the NBC tracking all the athletes twitter pages, personal blogs, MySpace accounts? @KingJames: USA Mens BBall wins again…Yawn: Kobe went up for 37.
Sure NBC and YouTube/Google will be on the lookout for illegal posts of their coverage, but can NBC really stop the flow of information from every single person with a cellphone or laptop who knows the outcome ahead of time? This is the same network that was unable to prevent news from getting out of their own newsroom.
The answer is NBCUniversal can’t do anything to be the first to show America the results from Beijing. It’s up to the viewer to decide if they want to be the last to know. In that case turn off your technology and tune into NBC.